Interoperability Needs More Than Fired-Up Buyers

Scott Mace, March 25, 2014

Health information technology buyers have been demanding interoperability for some time, yet too many IT vendors have too often kept the door to interoperability locked tight, denying the industry $30 billion in potential savings.

On his first comedy album, Bill Cosby did a timeless bit called The Pep Talk where a football coach gets his team all fired up in the locker room before game time and then sends them forth… only to be stopped by a locked door.

This bit came to mind as I read a new report from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, which along with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, held a one-day conference on healthcare IT interoperability last month.

In the report, the authors urge all buyers of healthcare IT, that's healthcare systems, hospitals, practices and patients, to insist that technology vendors make their products work well with each other, share data, and support open standards.

But when I talked to the report's author, Joseph Smith MD, chief science and medical officer at the West Health Institute, I was somewhat taken aback when he told me that healthcare IT buyers have yet to make it clear they want interoperability.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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